The municipal government of Tabuan-lasa in Basilan continues to provide assistance to families displaced by armed conflict between two MNLF factions in Barangay Babag, Bubuan Island.
Barangay Babag comprised of seven sitios, is virtually a ghost after displaced residents refuse to come home despite the deployment of peacekeeping forces.
Suriaya Buisan, Barangay Babag secretary said some 500 families were displaced by the attack that took place on January 5.
At least 180 families fled to Barangay Kaumpurnah in Lanawan Island. Aside from Lanawan and Bubuan, the two other islands of this town are Tapiantana and Saluping.
Other families sought shelter in the towns of Maluso and Isabela City.
Around 100 heavily armed men, led by Jama Mohammad Sandung, attacked the village on January 5.
Sandung’s faction was scheduled to meet with the group of Stalin Mukahil, the MNLF leader in Babuan, on Monday, January 6.
Sandung’s group however attacked that Sunday, resulting in a firefight which lasted nearly two days
Mukahil and his cousin Basit Kangal were killed during the gunbattle while hundreds of residents fled their homes in fear.
Buisan said their houses were ransacked by the attacked after the fight.
The Philippine Army’s 14th Special Forces Company headed by Captain Edmer Malucon and a 15-man MNLF team led by Commander Jimpoy Rodin, were stationed in Barangay Babag to keep the peace.
Rodin, the MNLF Commander tasked to help AFP troops to secure the island said, the problem of the two MNLF rival factions is currently being addressed by their senior leaders.